Is Jesus Christ a Myth? Part One

The reference to "James, brother of Jesus called Christ" is still found in book 20 of Jewish Antiquities, and this by itself torpedoes the idea that Jesus never existed. The idea that Christians were going around doctoring copies of Josephus while they were still a persecuted minority is ludicrous. Origen also says that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, so our present day passage on Jesus in Jewish Antiquities 18 cannot have existed in its current form. However, the authentic passing reference to Jesus in Jewish Antiquities 20 is good evidence that he had been mentioned previously by Josephus.

It should be pointed out that Origen himself reads too much into Josephus. Josephus does indeed say the people of Jerusalem thought the killing of James was wrong, but he does not go quite so far as to blame the entire Jewish War on the event.

It is clear that the existence of Jesus and the fact of his crucifixion are adequately attested by Josephus, even leaving aside the New Testament and other early Christian sources. To claim Jesus did not exist, in the face of the evidence from Josephus, is to indulge in special pleading. Historians should not ask for a higher standard of proof for the existence of Jesus than they do for any other ancient figure.

In the second part of this series, I will consider the alleged similarities between the story of Christ and the mythological stories of various pagan religions.

12/20/2010 5:00:00 AM
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